A former Sainsbury’s buyer is launching what he claims is Europe’s first new manuka honey brand fully compliant with labelling guidelines recently published by the New Zealand government.

The voluntary guidelines were introduced this summer as the labelling of manuka honey came under scrutiny. This was highlighted in The Grocer’s special report (28 June 2014), which identified discrepancies between claims made on the jars of manuka widely available in the UK and their contents.

Former Sainsbury’s and Holland & Barrett buyer Andrew Thain, who delayed launching his honey brand MGO until after the NZ Ministry for Primary Industries released the guidelines in July, is now talking to buyers about listing it.

“The guidelines clearly define the key characteristics of manuka honey,” said Thain.

Recommendations included no therapeutic claims about the honey; the chemical marker methylglyoxal (MGO) must be contained; and the level of MGO must be retained throughout the shelf life of the product.

To ensure full transparency, the range - which comprises 300+, 450+ and 600+ variants - will be packed in Europe in BRC or equivalent accredited facilities and tested in a UK-accredited laboratory to the ISO 17025 standard.

The product is being marketed by Family Foods, founded by Thain two years ago. A range of products is planned over the next three years, including a honey brand for children.